Premiering tonight (August 13) at 9PM ET/PT on The CW, Mysteries Decoded is an investigative documentary series that will delve deeper into some of America’s greatest unsolved mysteries, exploring newly discovered evidence and utilizing high-tech tools in reopening each case. Investigations include a deeper look into Area 51, the Salem Witch Trials, the Bermuda Triangle and the Lizzie Borden Murders.
Tonight’s series premiere is the “Lizzie Borden” episode, and in anticipation of the show’s launch tonight KSiteTV spoke with the show’s host, accomplished private investigator Jennifer Marshall, who is teamed every week with others to explore and learn more about some of these historical mysteries. You can find the interview below.
KSITETV’s CRAIG BYRNE: Can you talk a little bit about yourself and your background prior to the show?
JENNIFER MARSHALL: I am an honorably discharged U.S. Navy veteran. I deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I got out and I moved to Los Angeles to be a police officer, and unfortunately, that path did not work out for me, but I still wanted to get into the investigation realm. I wanted to be a detective of some sort. So I went to P.I. school about five years ago, I earned my Masters in criminal justice, and I got my P.I. license, I opened up a firm, and this show happened to come around, looking for somebody who fit who I am to a tee. It was just kind of a perfect match.
Can you talk about how you became involved with this series?
The original pilot was [when] CW was rebooting Roswell. There’s a good amount of younger people who weren’t really familiar with Roswell. So [the network] said, you know, we want to do this primer episode [Roswell: Mysteries Decoded] to kind of show people what may or may not have happened in 1947. So they brought me on, they paired me with Ryan Sprague who is a UFO journalist, very knowledgeable in his field, and we went out to Roswell and we tried to ascertain exactly what happened in 1947. So after that pilot aired, it did pretty well, and it ended up getting ordered to series.
In the premiere “Lizzie Borden” episode, there seemed to be a little bit of drama, with how you follow the facts as compared to someone who explores the paranormal. Can you talk about that? And was there ever a time when the drama was so high, you were surprised the episode came together?
You know, I think I can come on pretty strong with people. I’m a straight shooter.
Stephanie [Bingham, who appeared in the first episode] is quite lovely. She’s very talented in what she does, and she’s very strong in her beliefs, and I just think as long as there’s a modicum of respect, which we both showed to each other, it works out.
Stephanie and I come from two different places, and most of my co hosts and I come from different places. I am very pragmatic, and I will listen to what other people have to say, but I don’t have an agenda. When I go into an investigation, it’s not because I am someone who’s a psychic or a paranormal, or I have a background in whatever it is, so those people are naturally going to carry a bias, and that’s okay, but we just need to acknowledge the bias and kind of move past that.
It’s always a treat and a pleasure having the co-host because they’re kind of my window into that world, but I do always try to bring it back to ‘okay, I understand that you feel this way, but we need to talk about the facts. We need to talk about the physical evidence, the primary sources that exist. I think it’s a nice dynamic to have somebody who’s passionate about that field paired with somebody who is very much a skeptic. and it’s like, ‘show me the evidence.’ That’s essential on the show.
The “Lizzie Borden” episode also had you working with an author named Rebecca Pittman. Will every episode have multiple people that you consult with, like this?
It was wonderful, because Rebecca and I are very similar. She’s an author and a journalist. She was able to say ‘look at all of these transcripts.’ I had looked some up, we compared notes. So for me, that was going off of primary sources that existed at that time.
Always, I’ll have the co-host, and then I’ll have somebody who’s an author, or somebody who is a documentary filmmaker. There’s always somebody that we interview that has that hands-on experience in whatever case we’re looking at.
When you’re doing investigating, not on TV, I assume you do go to multiple sources a similar way. Is that correct?
This show is kind of a treat because it’s historical investigations, and that’s not something I would ever do on the outside as a private investigator, because who would pay your bills, right? Nobody’s going to pay that. So in my private practice, most of the time, they’ll come to me, and sometimes, clients will come to me, and they’ve already seen another investigator, or they have a taste that law enforcement is kind of going cold and law enforcement doesn’t have the bandwidth for. So I don’t go off with just that list and say, ‘okay, I’m going to interview these people.’ I really cast a very wide net, and I go interview people that maybe they missed, or they don’t necessarily think it’s important to interview. But I don’t go off of what other people have done, because you never know how the investigation’s going to work out, and if you have this kind of tunnel vision, you’re really limiting yourself as to the information you can gather.
How cool was it to get to see the old houses of New England in the “Lizzie Borden” episode?
It was really great. I mean, this was the house where Lizzie Borden’s parents were murdered. You don’t [usually] get to go to places that are still standing hundreds of years after the fact. So the fact that I got to go there, I got to see it, I got to be in that actual location…. that’s great. I wish we could always do that. But unfortunately, even with current investigations, sometimes I’ll go somewhere that something happened and the place has been remodeled. It’s been bulldozed. So to have that [home] since 1892… it’s almost unheard of. It was amazing.
Did your feelings about the paranormal change over the course of doing the series?
You know, there were things that happened in “Lizzie Borden” that I just can’t explain.
I would not say that I was somebody who said, ‘you know, ghosts don’t exist. That’s not a thing.’ Because I don’t think that we understand how alternate dimensions work, or souls, or spirits. I don’t think we really understand that. So, I don’t think that I was necessarily someone that didn’t think that it existed, but there were things that happened at Lizzie Borden’s house that there are no other explanations for.
Because that was the first episode that we shot, I’ve had months to reflect on this. Could it have been this? Could it have been that? And I wasn’t the only person who experienced something. Other non-believers in the room also experienced something.
So yeah, I would say I don’t know if it’s turned me into a believer per se, but I can definitely say things happened, and I don’t have any other explanation for it.
What other subjects are going to be explored in season one?
We’re looking at the emergence of Mothman in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. We’re looking at the Salem Witch Trials. Area 51. The Bermuda Triangle. Bigfoot. Montauk.
Growing up, did you have any particular favorite private investigators in pop culture, like Nancy Drew or anything like that?
It’s funny. As a little girl, I would watch hours upon hours of reruns of Unsolved Mysteries. It was one of my favorite shows. I remember when I was on deployment in 2003 and I found out Robert stack had died. I closed my office door and I cried. I cried, because he was such a part of my history growing up, and my childhood. I remember feeling excited every time I would turn it on and they would have updates, they would do that little jingle and then they would have updates. That just used to make me feel so fulfilled. Like, ‘look at what he’s doing for these people, for these cases!’ He’s bringing closure to them. And that’s just so important.
Is that something you hope to do with this series?
You know, I think this series is different, because it is historical investigation. It’s much different, but I do think that we are able to shed light on things, looking at cases with 2019 technology, and just kind of educate people as a whole, because a lot of the people that I talked to, they were like, ‘oh, Lizzie Borden, she took an axe, gave her mother 40 whacks,’ that’s pretty much the extent of it. So anything we can kind of do to say, you know, here’s this huge historical case, it’s been talked about for hundreds of years, and here it is, packaged 44 to 46 minutes… I think that’s great. I think the more that we know as a society about anything is just good for the population as a whole.
Is there anything else that you’d like to say for why people should be watching Mysteries Decoded this summer?
You know, I just think it appeals to a lot of people. It would appeal to somebody who has an interest in mysteries, or it would appeal to somebody who just wants more education on different things. Maybe they don’t necessarily know about some the cases.
It also appeals to people who are just looking for a fun show to watch for an hour. I’m really happy with how the editing process turned out. I’m really happy with how the shooting process was. I feel like the show has a lot to offer a lot of different groups of viewers.
Mysteries Decoded premieres Tuesday, August 13 at 9PM ET/PT on The CW. Take a look at the trailer below! Our thanks to Jennifer Marshall for this interview.